Monday, July 19, 2010

Speaking of Lucite...

I think that Lucite (or clear acrylic) is a bit of a tricky element in the design world. Sure, it's fun and irreverent, but it can also veer all too easily into seriously tacky territory (see also, stripper shoes). But, like most other things in design (both interior design and in fashion) it's really all about context. Put Lucite in the right setting and it can be wildly successful (see also, Prada, Michael Kors), but pair it with too much animal print, patent leather and uplights, and you've suddenly found yourself in some terrible '80s flashback.

So how then, can you get it right? While my advice for fashion is pretty simple (keep the rest of your outfit relatively conservative, and keep the Lucite confined to a (preferably lower and chunkier) heel, I think it's worth delving into the question in a bit more detail when it comes to design.

As with a single outfit, it's best to keep your Lucite pieces in a single room to a minimum. Just as you wouldn't want every hard surface in your room in the same, dark wood, so too do you want to eschew matching your Lucite coffee table to your Lucite side table to your Lucite lamp....you get the idea. Keeping your Lucite pieces to only one or two standouts allows them to be the stars that they are. Here, DC-based designer Sally Steponkus successfully incorporates a Lucite coffee table into an otherwise fairly formal, traditional living room. The Lucite injects a youthful, more lighthearted note.

Lonny

There are a ton of wonderful examples of designers incorporating acrylic coffee tables into their designs available on the web to inspire you. I particularly love using an acrylic coffee table when the room is tight on space as it almost disappears, avoiding that cluttered/cramped look I generally dislike. Like glass or mirrors, Lucite is a great material to use when you want to add function, without taking up any visual space.

A pair of small acrylic side tables work beautifully as a single coffee table, allowing an uninterrupted view of a particularly striking rug while the two smaller tables give you maximum flexibility to move them around when entertaining.

Leslie Klotz via House Beautiful

The shape of this coffee table is particularly stunning, but its clear base means it doesn't compete with the bold fabric choices on the bench, club chair and pillows.

Ken Fulk

Another great example of how Lucite works particularly well when you don't want to lose sight of a particularly striking rug. I also love the tension in this room between the thoroughly modern coffee table and zebra hide against the much more traditional moldings and upholstered pieces.

I'm so charmed by the idea of a Lucite trunk. The visual joke of having closed storage be completely transparent strikes me as particularly fresh. I'd do as this homeowner did here and fill it with my favorite books and/or magazines.

Of course tables aren't the only place where Lucite is welcome. Lucite seating can also be incredibly attractive. I love these Lucite barstools, with their upholstered seats and I think they work particularly well in this more traditional kitchen. If you're looking for a similar look, you could always add an upholstered seat to these Kartell charles ghost stools.

Jamie Drake

I don't think you can ever go wrong with an acrylic chair for your desk. It's practically foolproof, though I do think it's best to pair these chairs with more traditional tables and desks. Remember: it's contrast that creates interest!

Having said that though, I do think a Louis ghost chair from Phillipp Starck works beautifully with a clean-lined Parsons desk. But then again, they're both design classics.

I love the combination of these very modern Lucite chairs with their more traditional, tufted seats. The clear acrylic further lightens the sunny yellow walls and are great counterpoints to the very traditional wood pedestal table.

Christina Murphy

The mademoiselle chairs from Kartell are some of my favorites (I particularly love them in Missoni prints). They work perfectly with this dining room's glamorous, highly reflective atmosphere and add a sense of weightlessness to the heavy round pedestal table and dark wood floors. Can you imagine how boring this room would look with more traditional dark wood dining chairs?

I love a set of Lucite legs peaking out from underneath a bench or chair. This is a great way to incorporate a little bit -- but not too much -- acrylic into a design or when you simply want a fantastic print or shape to dominate. Note too in this room how there's also a Louis ghost chair from Phillipp Starck used as a desk chair: I think multiple Lucite pieces work in this space because it's young and fun and because they're really not the dominate players here (the fabrics are).

I love the idea of a Lucite headboard when you want the stability of a headboard without blocking any of the wall behind it (perhaps because, as shown above, you have particularly a fantastic wallpaper or mural). Sure, you could forgo a headboard altogether, but I do think that creates a very modern look that can even look a bit unfinished (and, as an avid reader in bed, I personally just don't find a total lack of headboard to be particularly comfortable). This trick would also be very effective when you are placing your bed in front of a window.

If you're looking for a few good sources of Lucite and other acrylic pieces online, here are my suggestions on good places to get you started:

CB2 (for occasional tables and desk accessories)
CSN (for Kartell chairs)
The Paris Apartment (for ultra feminine seating)
Plexi-craft (for just about any Lucite/acrylic furniture you can imagine)
Dabney Lee at Home and iomoi (for Lucite trays and desk accessories)

So what are your thoughts on Lucite and acrylic furniture? Do you have any pieces in your own home?

34 comments:

Rene said...

Haha! Great post! A place for everything and everything in its place.

-Rene

Kirsten Krason said...

I just got a lucite chair and I LOVE it!

Christy said...

I love it - particularly the high stools with a neat fabric seat cushion! Fun post Averill! It was such a treat meeting you last week - dinner was great!

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I love that lucite trunk! What a fun idea. And, I really like the example of the mix with traditional elements in the Ken Fulk room. And, I've got my eye on the Kartell chairs myself....I did a post on them and a knock off out there a few weeks ago. Did you order your chaise?

Cristin said...

I have a trio of nesting tables that are lucite. Love them!

The lucite headboard and trunk are so fun! Great examples and post Averill!

xo,
cristin

a blonde and a brunette said...

great post...and it's so true...love all the examples you featured!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Great tips! I've been longing for a little lucite in my life, we'll see if it happens. :) I'm not sure the hubby could be convinced!

Aesthetic Oiseau said...

Once again - an amazing collection of pictures! I absolutely love lucite accent pieces - especially in a traditional interior. Great examples!

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

Good advice, if there were several lucite pieces in a single room or spread over the house, it wouldn't have the same "wow factor".

Thurgood17 said...

Hi there! I love your blog and have been a quieter lurker/reader for awhile. Just wondering if you know the source of the couch in the first Lonny picture with the chevron curtains? It would be perfect for my small apartment. Please let me know!! Thank you!

Bromeliad said...

Love lucite. No furniture (pricy), just accessories and one hootchy momma pair of shoes. And a tabletop that scratched horribly.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Lucite works in so many interiors as shown by these fantastic images you collected. I just love it!

As for lucite shoes...who wouldn't want to feel like a modern day Cinderella!!!

Luxurious Life said...

I have a Starck Louis Ghost Chair that I love!! I have it paired with a McGuire rattan chair, of similiar shape,that was bright yellow, found at an estate sale for $50!! I had the McGuire chair painted silver and have the 2 chairs on either side of a 1940's side board, accessorized with crystal candlesticks. This subtle, yet sparkly ensemble sits nicely in an alcove behind my sofa. Love a little lucite in an otherwise classic interior. Adds a little bit of whimsy, without being over the top!!

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

I think you're right. Done properly lucite can be great. I've always been a fan of those lucite kitchen stools and the lucite table/trunk.

Happy Monday!

Mackenzie {Design Darling} said...

I couldn't agree more! I think one standout piece is all it takes — in fashion as in interiors. Brilliant post!

Sanity Fair said...

Awesome lead with the shoes! You are SO right :)
But when it comes to design, I can't get enough lucite. Love it. I'm just such a fan of light, bright spaces, and nothing lightens up a room more than furniture you can see clean through. And I don't stop at accessories either - huge fan of the iomoi lucite trays...
-SF

Style Redux 2 said...

I love lucite. I use the Ghost chair in my own home and for clients. Especially great for apartments where you don't want to take up visual space. I just used a set of Ghost chairs in an enclosed balcony with a waterfront view. You look right through them. Excellent post.

Daniela said...

I couldn't help but notice that the folks over at yhl used one of your images for an article about fake versus real plants :) I love lucite, Micah hates it.....Compromising can be so difficult!
www.chefuality.blogspot.com

Kara said...

Great post! I love lucite butI don't have anything yet. I was thinking about maybe a console table or maybe a ghost chair.

Poindexter said...

truly fabulous examples, you're right about contrast. I have to keep remembering that.

LindsB said...

I really need to get something lucite in my apartment asap, I just love it!

Sarah Klassen said...

These are gorgeous examples and ideas, Averill! Hands down, my favorite is the trunk. It's just so impeccably chic, isn't it? It reminds me of the great see-all clutch that is out right now, except this is more of a showcase of beautiful things... I want to put silver painted sticks in it for Christmas, books for Fall maybe, and fill it with bouquets for Spring and Summer... the possibilities are endless.

Love this post!

xo

Fran said...

I don't own a piece of lucite furniture yet...but my favorites are the coffee table, trunk and the madamemoiselle chairs!

dooverdecade said...

Great post, Averill. I love all the pictures you shared and your analysis of why each lucite piece works in the room. Thanks!

Kelly@40isthenew30

Laura@JourneyChic said...

It's interesting - I usually think that lucite totally wouldn't go with my traditional decor, but some of the rooms you showed proved otherwise. Love those kitchen stools!

Two Tall Blondes said...

LOOOOOVE lucite! i almost opted for a coffee table, but was afraid of the scratches my little darlings with claws would leave.

alas, i will have to admire from afar...

Haven and Home said...

This is a great post in favor of lucite. Great, great images, I am sold!

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

I clearly need a little lucite in my life ;)

(Should have jumped on those Overstock ghost chair lookalikes - sigh...)

My Interior Life said...

I love a little lucite. I have a few of these images tucked away in my inspiration file as well. I'm now contemplating some lucite bar stools from CB2!

Great post!

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

What a fabulous post, got such a laugh looking at the first image. Reminds me of the shoes I once had for my Barbie!! Love the ghost barstools, particularly with the upholstered seats. They would look just right in my house! Janell

casey at loft and cottage said...

Beautiful inspiration images! I'm not sure how I feel about lucite in my own house, but I love it when I see it here.

Kathysue said...

Averill great post!! Wonderful examples of lucite done right!! I loved the dining room with the lucite legged chairs, you are so right it would not have looked the same without those chairs, it became a Wow!! room. Love your post!! Kathysue

Hello Lover... said...

Great post - I love lucite - I have the cb2 coffee table and I really love the way it serves its purpose functionally but takes up so little visual space.

I have seen that Kendall Wilkinson space numerous times and I don't think I ever noticed that lucite headboard before!

Anonymous said...

WOW spaces indeed. If you love these, check out www.lucitelux.com to see the most amazing vintage jewel-like purses and our design competition to find a modern version. Just secured Alexis Bittar as our final judge ...in love, in deep with Lucite!

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